History 398 - Fall 1997
Technologies and Their Societies: Historical Perspectives

Second Essay
Mid-Course Bearings

Write an essay of 1000-1200 words on one of the following topics. Since history is fundamentally an empirical disipline, your response should set forth an argument supported by specific evidence drawn from the lectures, readings, and precept discussions pertinent to the subject.


In Chapter 1 of The World We Have Lost, Peter Laslett describes the baker's family as a social unit of production. He might just as well have chosen a weaver. Using evidence from the readings, in particular J.T. Ward's The Factory System, and from the lectures on the formation of industrial society, describe the unit of production centered on the traditional handloom weaver and relate what happened to it with the introduction of the power loom.


"The factory was more than just a larger work unit. It was a system of production resting on a characteristic definition of the functions and responsibilities of the different participants in the productive process." David S. Landes, The Unbound Prometheus
Using evidence from the lectures and readings, identify the participants, both seen and unseen, in the productive process pictured above and describe how each acquired his or her functions and responsibilities. (You will find a clearer reproduction on p. 189 of Engines of Change.)


"The handmill gives you society with the feudal lord, the steam-mill, society with the industrial capitalist." How well does this frequently quoted statement Karl Marx's The Poverty of Philosophy stand up against the historical evidence of the role of the mill in medieval life and of the origins and development of the factory system as both subjects have been set forth in the lectures and readings, in particular in Marx's own analysis of the nature of "Machinery and Large-Scale Industry" in Capital I,15?


Marx's view of industrialization was based on the experience of England. How well does his analysis apply to early industrialization in the United States, as set out in the readings and lectures? Your answer should be comparative, giving specific examples of what caught Marx's attention in England and how those examples have similar or different counterparts in the United States.

"This paper represents my own work in accordance with University Regulations."

Essays are due by 3:00 PM, 17 November, in your preceptor's box in the History Department Office, 129 Dickinson Hall.